If you enjoy reading, joining a book club can be a good way to meet other lovers of literature. Book groups often have a diverse group of individuals, all with unique viewpoints and differing opinions. This combination is perfect for getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new friends. Making friends in a group like this takes a bit of time, but is well worth the effort.
Where to Find Book Clubs
I guarantee that there are several book groups in your area. However, they are sometimes difficult to find because they meet in private homes or are otherwise not advertised. Don't get discouraged, because it often takes a little bit of sleuthing to not only find a group, but to find the right fit for you. Here are a few places to check to see which book groups might be offered in your area:
- Your library. Ask about in-house book groups (run by the library) as well as independent groups that meet in the library building.
- Independent bookstores. While any large bookstore chain could offer a book club or two, you'll probably have more success with the independent stores. If you're unsure which stores in your area are independently owned, Indie Bound is a good place to start your search.
- Meetup.com. Just click the "find" button at the top, type in "book club" or "book group" in the topic area, and enter your zip code. You'll be connected with a list of groups currently meeting, and will need to look through them to see if they are taking new members. If there is not a group in your area, Meetup will also show you other people interested in the same type of group, which means you could start one yourself if you're so inclined.
- Coffee shops. What goes better with a book discussion than coffee? Check the bulletin boards or call local shops to find out.
- Coworkers. Ask the folks you work with if they know of a book group you can join. Even if they are not a part of one, they usually know someone who is.
- LinkedIn.com. The site generally lists business-related book groups, which provide a way to meet professional contacts that can turn into friends.
- Community centers. Check out your local community center to see which groups they host or know about. Often the people that work at these places are aware of groups meeting in the area that might not be listed.
How to Know If a Book Club Is Right for You
Once you find a group, you'll need to give it some time to determine if the choice of books and people involved are the right fit for you. You may need to test out a couple different groups before you find one that you really like. Give each group some time before you move on. If you attend just one or two meetings, the group could be having an "off night" and might not be clicking as well as they normally do. Give it three or four meetings to see if the group is something you're interested in. Also, it takes awhile to get acclimated to any new group, so allow yourself time to get to know people and feel comfortable.
To determine if a book club is a good fit for you on the friendship front, ask yourself:
- Are the discussions engaging?
- Do I look forward to coming?
- Do the people seem welcoming?
- Do I enjoy the books we're reading?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, devote at least six months to the group so you can begin to make friends.
Making Friends in a Book Group
To become friends with your fellow readers, arrive early for each group so you can get a few moments to make small talk before the book discussion begins. Ask thoughtful questions of the group members, such as:
- How long has the book group been meeting?
- What were some of the favorite books you've read?
- How did the group get started?
- How are books chosen?
- Did you know each other before the group was formed?
Be careful not to grill your book club mates. Instead, ask questions here and there and listen for clues to their personality. You'll learn a lot by paying attention to things people reveal about their home life, literature choices, and free time. These are the clues that will help you become friends with them down the road.
When you meet a few folks you feel comfortable with, ask if they want to meet you for coffee or something to eat before or after the group meeting. Other suggestions include:
- Attending an author signing.
- Going to see a movie based on a book.
- Attending a lecture related to a book you've discussed.
- Helping with or visiting a library sale.
If you start by connecting your invite to the book club in some way, you will have a greater success rate when it comes to getting to know people outside of the group.
Want more ideas? Sign up for my free ecourse, 101 Ways to Have More Friends.